Summer Activities and Spinal Cord Injury

With summer coming to a close and autumn setting in, many of us will be hoping to get the most out of the longer days before the clocks go back and the weather turns cold. But this time of year is one of the busiest for spinal cord injury centres – because unfortunately, many popular summer activities can result in SCI.

Diving and Tombstoning

It’s common to find people of all ages jumping off piers and cliff faces during the peak summer months. The freedom and rush of jumping off a precarious edge into the water below looks like a lot of fun – and no doubt it is – but “tombstoning” can have severe and fatal consequences.

Water isn’t always as deep as it seems, and the depth can change quickly with the tide. Rocks can be hidden under the water, posing a huge risk of impact. Deaths and injuries tragically do occur, but the practice still continues.

There have been multiple injuries this year alone at Durdle Door in Dorset, a popular site for tombstoning. Emergency service access at Durdle Door can be difficult, often relying on air ambulances to get injured people out safely – and that makes responding to life-threatening injuries even more difficult at peak times.

Limb and spinal cord injuries are the most common non-fatal outcomes of tombstoning injuries. While limb injuries are not usually complex, they can make swimming to safety difficult or impossible.

Spinal cord injuries, even non-fatal incidents, can quickly become deadly in water depending on the injury level. If the injured person loses mobility or consciousness, they could drown without immediate assistance.

Most of the people injured are young; in their teens or twenties. The consequences of SCI are lifelong – and so much deeper than just the loss of mobility.

But what can be done to prevent spinal cord injuries from tombstoning?

Some areas, like Newquay in Cornwall, have tried banning tombstoning in the past. But that strategy didn’t work: thrillseekers just ended up travelling to more remote spots to jump from. This heightened the risk considerably, moving the activity to more remote cliffs where response times are much higher and water currents are stronger.

So, banning the practice is ineffective – and it’s unlikely that tombstoning will ever stop. Instead, people should be encouraged to check the tide, check for rocks or submerged objects, and ensure the water depth is sufficient for their jump before they attempt it.

And there are safer ways to try cliff diving, with professional guides who offer climbing and cliff jumping experiences.

Spinal Cord Injuries on Holiday

Travel plans in the age of coronavirus have taken a bit of a downward turn – but travel is still possible and happening. Suffering a spinal cord injury on holiday is possible, too. You’d think injuries were more likely when travelling for extreme sports like snowboarding, mountain biking or on adventure excursions like whitewater rafting, but accidents on holiday can happen at any time – and even with sports factored in, the most common injuries on holiday arise from slips and falls.

It’s not just alcohol-fuelled lads holidays or hen dos to blame, either; slips and trips on poorly maintained flooring have caused people to fall and sustain life-changing injuries – and a personal injury solicitor could help injured people get the compensation they deserve. At Aspire Law, our team of personal injury solicitors recently achieved a settlement for a client who sustained a spinal cord injury on holiday in Spain, following an incident at a waterpark.

Road Accidents

Road accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries around the world, and they can happen to anyone at any time. But summer travel means more time spent on the road, which leads to more opportunities for accidents to occur.

Since the national lockdown, some areas have reported huge spikes in deaths from collisions and crashes, as well as life-changing injuries. Full statistics for 2020 aren’t in yet, but we already know that behaviour on the road changed starkly – and from personal experience, lockdown seems to have dulled the driving skill of some road users.

Alcohol plays a big role in road traffic accidents. With reduced numbers out on the road and a reported increase in alcohol consumption, the temptation to drink and drive was too much for some during lockdown – despite the fact that pubs and bars were closed.

As some businesses reopened and road users returned during the summer, road accidents spiked. With the seasons changing and schools reopening, staying safe out on the road should be a primary concern for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

Talk to Aspire Law

Raquel Siganporia is a Senior Solicitor and Director of Business Development at Aspire Law.

Aspire Law specialises in spinal cord injury compensation claims, including those caused by personal injury, medical negligence and in road traffic accidents. Contact Raquel free of charge and in confidence on 0800 030 20 40 or at

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